More muses on grading.  I’m not sure I actually have a point.  I just wanted to explore some thoughts.

More and more I feel like homework is punitive in nature.  Supposedly, it serves to reinforce the teaching, but if most students are racing through it to finish it just before class ends, or begins, is it really helping?

Why do we use a grading system?  Again, it seems to reflect work ethic more than knowledge.  Those students who are willing to work hard can get the upper echelon, but those who are lazy or unmotivated can only score in the bottom portion of grades.  Shakespeare would get a D in English if he wasn’t willing to write something that wasn’t in iambic pentameter.  It doesn’t matter how well versed he is in English.

Could a pass/fail system actually work?  The problem would be convincing parents that just because little Johnny turned in all of his work, doesn’t mean he actually can pass the class.  He has to demonstrate learning and knowledge.  That would be tough.

How can we really measure learning and knowledge?  Is there a good way?  Does it work for everyone?

Is it good to differentiate instruction for every student if the world doesn’t do the same?  Are we coddling them instead of preparing them?  Or should we only be focused on the the learning and not thinking about the future?

Should the system of grading always be in flux?  What about colleges?  Not my problem?  I wish I knew the answer to any of these.

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.



  1. ptola said,

    September 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    What I don’t like about grades is that there’s only one for every class, which lumps all the different aspects of a student’s performance into a potentially meaningless label. Maybe more accurate – though still not perfect – results would be achieved if students received different evaluations for things like homework consistency, quality of projects, achievements on formal exams, apparent effort, attendance, anything else that seems relevant. Maybe even an indicator of change in performance over the course of the year or semester would be helpful; there’s definitely a big difference between a student who settled for C’s consistently throughout the year and a student who struggled and improved closer to the end of the year.

    In general though, even with such a system, so much relies on the teacher. If we’re going to ask for more specific grading systems, we need more of them, and “better” ones, whatever that means.

  2. renaissanceguy said,

    September 27, 2009 at 12:51 am

    People have tried out different ways of assessing student progress for centuries. No one way seems best.

    I want to differ with you a little. You are compartmentalizing effort and leraning. In most cases one causes the other.

  3. September 28, 2009 at 8:02 am

    That’s the standard theory, RG. What I’m starting to question is this: If the student understands the material completely, but doesn’t like to do homework, is it right for him to earn a D? It would seem to be putting more emphasis on effort than learning, doesn’t it?

  4. Scott Erb said,

    October 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I have no problem putting more emphasis on effort than learning. That’s because everyone will learn more if they put out more effort. In fact, I have no problem giving an A to someone who knows the material less than a person who gets a B, if they the one who knows less did more effort. That’s to motivate the B person to do more, and learn more. In other words, rewarding effort maximizes learning for everyone…IF the assignments being graded are ones where more work truly enhances learning. If work is boring assignments that are neglected by those who know more because they are seen as busy work not enhancing knowledge, then the assignments are of poor quality and shouldn’t be given. To me, the constant effort is to design work in a way that truly motivates learning at all levels.

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